Hamilton Thompson tells us about the
Sinclair family connections in the graveyard.
There is a square walled area with railings on
top where the members of the Sinclair family
Within this enclosed area there are some quite
large and ornate memorials, some of which are
set into the walls. The Rev. John Sinclair (who
died in 1702) is buried here.
Here at Leckpatrick, as with other graveyards
we’ve visited in this special series,
there are mortality symbols carved into the
stones. These were put here to remind others
of their own mortality and to prepare themselves
William describes some of these:
A skull and cross-bones, a bell (bells were
rung at funerals) an open book (representing
the Bible) crossed spades. These are assumed
to represent the tools of the gravedigger.
Here also can be found the only example in
Ulster of a tree with a serpent wrapped around
it. This represents the “fall of man” from
the book of Genesis.
Of all of the graveyards visited throughout
this particular series, Leckpatrick has the
dated headstone. It’s very probably the
oldest in Ulster. On it is carved a coat of arms,
a hand bearing a sword and a Celtic cross. The
stone bears the inscription “To the
memory of John Magee who died in 1617”. In the
1650s, one David Magee, presumed to be John’s
son was the owner of Holyhill House. It was
the Magees who sold it to the Sinclairs around
Paul Moore speaks next to Joan Donnell and Johnny
Joan is involved in a local project installing signage
and interpretive boards around the area including
the graveyard. She feels it’s very important
to inform people of the historic significance of
they can see here. She says that this graveyard
is a place which, due to its location, people
drive past and don’t
even notice. Her hope is that, by raising awareness,
more people might stop and take a look into the graveyard
and perhaps appreciate some of the history that’s
to be found here. Joan herself has relatives buried
here at Leckpatrick and makes the point that burials
are still taking place here and many of the graves
are still being visited. This is evidenced by recent
flowers and wreaths that can be seen. Joan says that
the graveyard is not just a historical monument but
a part of the present day community too.
Johnny Dooher talks about the Catholic burials that
took place here up until the mid 1800s One example
quotes is that of Father Tom Christie, originally
from Glenmornan. He was the Parish Priest here at
Leckpatrick and he died of a fever in 1827. It’s
thought that by the 1840s the Catholic churches had
made their own arrangements for burials and that’s
why they appear to have stopped here at that time.
William Roulston notes that, surprisingly, there
are actually very few clergymen buried here at Leckpatrick.
There’s evidence that some memorials have been
moved from this place to the current Church of Ireland
where a few memorials to clergy can be seen. This
is the case for Rev. John Sinclair.
The Hamilton Abercorn burial place, known
locally as “The Abercorn Chapel”,
exhibits an unusual roof-less building comprising
of just four walls, measuring about 20 x 10
Although it seems reasonable to assume
once had a roof, William suggests that this
structure, which may well be unique in Ireland,
is an example
of the kind of funeral monument that is found
in parts of Scotland.